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Vinyasa is a more fluid form of yoga that links poses together using breath, with no set cuing, regardless of location or temperature. Hot yoga generally refers to any yoga done in a heated room with varying temperatures. 

Hotter rooms generally are quieter with less movement, lower temperatures may include more movement and music. Bikram yoga refers to a specific set sequence of postures with specific cuing practiced in a heated room. Each style has its own benefits and sometimes they are combined for a single practice.

People have been practicing yoga for centuries, but the two of the most popular styles are Bikram and Vinyasa. While they share some similarities, there are key differences between the two. Here we will explore what those differences are and what benefits each style has to offer.

What is hot vinyasa yoga?

Hot vinyasa yoga is exactly what the name implies - it's a vinyasa-style class in a heated room. A vinyasa style class is typically made up of many postures that are strung together for a smooth flow, linking breath and consistent movement. 

Because vinyasa involves flowing postures linked to breath the temperature is anywhere under 95 degrees and starting at 40% humidity. Most practitioners should take humidity into consideration. High humidity can make a class feel heavy and challenging. 

Humidity goes up in humid climates and with busy full classes. Humidity is also difficult for studios to control once it gets higher than 40%. When humidity is high, tune in and adjust your practice by moving at a pace that works for you. 

"Vinyasa Yoga" is a general catch-all term as there is not a defined set of postures or routine that is followed by every single instructor. Cueing will be unique to each teacher as well. Vinyasa yoga typically has an overall structure of class.

Most Vinyasa yoga classes have a format.

  1. Integration is the start of class which introduces gentle movement and range of motion of your spine. Integration can include breath work or meditation to center and ground the practitioner.
  2. A warm up using Sun salutations A, B or both to invite and increase movement and breath. Sun Salutations may include postures such as Mountain (Tadasana), Standing forward fold (Uttanasana), Half Lift (Ardha Uttanasana), High to Low Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana), Upward facing dog (Urdvha Mukha Svanasana), Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Warrior one and Warrior two (Virabhadrasana I and II).
  3. A Peak flow portion. A Vinyasa peak flow can be at any level needed for the practitioner. A peak flow includes core strength, leg, spine, shoulder, hip stability and mobility combined with seated and balancing poses. A peak flow happens after warm up and sun salutations, which may include poses that increase the level of challenge for the class in any of these areas:
    1. Length of holding the pose
    2. Increase flow speed
    3. Sequence of poses
    4. Temperature of room
    5. Posture accessibility or level of difficulty
    6. Accessing large muscle groups
  4. Surrender series or cool down.  This is an opportunity for your body to transition from movement and start to slow down, lengthen stretches and go deeper into muscle and joint mobility. Postures might include Seated forward fold (Paschmimottasana), Happy baby pose (Ananda balasana), Supine twist (Jathara Parivartasana)
  5. Meditation or stillness. Class usually ends with Corpse Pose (Svanasana, Savasana, Shavasana, Mritasana)

Vinyasa vs. Bikram Yoga

What's the same?

Bikram yoga is done in a heated room for each session. A vinyasa class may be done in a heated room, but it's not necessary. Often studios will offer vinyasa-style classes in a heated room with similar humidity with a goal of 40%, but the temperatures are much different. Bikram yoga is 105 degrees while hot vinyasa is anywhere from 95 degrees and lower.

There is often overlap between the poses in a vinyasa style class with those that are offered in a Bikram class. While no two vinyasa classes are the same, and every Bikram class is the same sequence and instruction, there are typically a handful of poses you will see throughout each class, regardless of who the instructor is. 

It is common to practice these same or similar poses in both classes

  • Vinyasa / Bikram
  • Shavasana / Savasana
  • Chair pose / Awkward
  • Dancer pose / Standing bow pulling
  • Triangle / Triangle
  • Wide legged forward fold / Standing separate leg stretching
  • Cobra / Cobra
  • Half tortoise / Half tortoise
  • Camel / Camel
  • Seated forward bend / Stretching pose

They may be called different postures in each class and cued differently but they are the same or similar postures with small to no differences. 

What's different?

As mentioned earlier, no two vinyasa classes are the same. On the other hand, every Bikram class follows the exact same routine with set cuing. Set curing may provide comfort and an opportunity to meditate for those who prefer a regular and consistent practice and can note the changes happening for your body and mind.

Bikram classes follow a set of 26 asanas and 2 breathing exercises. This isn’t written about often, but there are actually more than 26 postures (asanas) in a Bikram yoga class. Some postures are grouped together and counted as one.

The room's temperature and humidity are set at 40.6 celsius (~105F) and 40% humidity. Each class originally is 90 minutes long with two sets of the postures, in the last few years studios have shifted class lengths to 60 or 75 minutes adjusting the number of sets of postures. 

Beginner vinyasa-style classes are typically 45-60 minutes in length with the temperature at 95 degrees or lower. In both classes humidity is usually 40%.

Depending on the studio, instructor, or class, a vinyasa class may vary in temperature. Most studios offer an entry-level vinyasa class, some heated, some unheated.

A Vinyasa class is easy for beginners because there is usually music and continuous movement which makes it easy for a beginner’s mind to feel comfortable, and gives you something to physically focus on. A Bikram class is easy for beginners because the postures are simple and slow with clear concise cuing.

The challenge for beginners in Vinyasa is the amount of new postures flowing in one class. The challenge for beginners in a Bikram class is the stillness in the poses and the quiet of the class combined with heat, makes for a good mental challenge. 

You may find it difficult to locate a studio that offers a 'Bikram' branded class anymore. Many studios have shed the 'Bikram' name from their classes or advertisements. You may find Bikram’s beginning yoga class called Original hot yoga or 26&2. If you are interested in reading the original dialogue, it can be found here. 

The benefits of yoga

Some of the benefits of yoga include:

  • Entering the zone, also known as the flow state where your brain waves shift, your conscious mind quiets and your subconscious mind becomes focused and engrossed in the experience.
  • Improved gross and fine motor skills
  • Improved balance, which prevents falls or injury
  • Improved joint movement, stability, and mobility
  • Improves circulation, which is essential for providing nutrients, hormones, and oxygen to tissues, muscles, and organs throughout your body.
  • Aides in recovery due to circulation benefits
  • Reduces stress by shifting brain waves and hormones
  • Improves sleep-wake cycles by providing an opportunity to rest and digest, and shift hormones

An added benefit to heated yoga is aiding in heat acclimatization. Heat acclimatization is the improvement in the ability to function in heat that comes from increasing the duration or intensity of work performed in heat.

The benefits of vinyasa yoga

The benefits of Bikram yoga

  • Bikram yoga has been shown to improve lower body strength, lower and upper body range of motion, and balance in healthy adults, according to a 2015 study. 
  • A 2014 study suggests that Bikram yoga may be an effective option for reducing the risk of osteoporosis in pre-menopausal women. Over a 5 year period, Bikram yoga was shown to at minimum, preserve bone mineral density in the test population.
  • Bikram yoga has been shown to increase strength, increase flexibility, and modestly decrease body fat, according to a 2013 study.

How to choose the right class for you

If you are new to yoga, starting with a slower paced beginner-level vinyasa class is recommended. A slower pace will allow you to get familiar with the poses and what they should feel like. Slower paced vinyasa classes are called slow flow, or gentle yoga. 

Bikram yoga are beginning level postures and a beginning level class. The heat, quiet and stillness adds a challenge for most at first. If you are interested in the Bikram-style sequences, look for a studio that offers classes specifically labeled as Bikram’s beginning yoga, Original hot yoga, or 26&2.

You may need to call and ask beforehand to find out if it is a "Bikram-style" class. As mentioned earlier, many studios have shed the "Bikram" name from their branding.

While on the phone it's a good idea to ask what the temperatures are for each class, Find out which times are lower-heat or higher-heat.


What is the difference between hot yoga and hot vinyasa

"Hot Yoga" is a general term for any style of yoga done in a heated environment. "Hot Vinyasa" specifically refers to a vinyasa-style class in a heated room.

Is hot vinyasa yoga for beginners?

Typically each studio offers a beginner-friendly hot vinyasa or hot yoga class. Reach out to the studio beforehand to find out which ones are beginner friendly. Always check with your doctor before you start any new exercise regime.

Is hot vinyasa yoga good for you?

Yes! There are many benefits to practicing hot yoga. See above for more specific benefits. **Link to the benefits section.

Is Bikram Yoga the same as hot yoga?

No. Bikram Yoga was the first style of hot yoga that existed and is a style of yoga created by Bikram Choudhury. It consists of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, performed in a room heated to 105°F (40.6°C) with 40% humidity.

Hot yoga can be any style of yoga performed in a heated room, but the sequences, poses, and class structure may be different.

What is the Bikram yoga sequence?

Standing Postures

  • Pranayama Deep Breathing. Pranayama (Breathing exercise)
  • Mountain. Standing neutral position. Tadasana (Posture is not listed or counted in Bikram's official dialogue. It is expected and sometimes cued for practitioners to stand in neutral in between the standing poses for a moment of stillness)
  • Half Moon. Backbend. with Hands to Feet Pose (Postures are counted as one). Ardha-Chandrasana, Anuvittasana (Sanskrit for backbend is not listed in Bikram's official dialogue) with Padahastasana
  • Awkward Pose 1.2.3 (Postures are counted as one). Utkatasana
  • Eagle Pose. Garurasana
  • Standing Head to Knee Pose. Dandayamana-Janushirasana
  • Standing Bow Pose. Dandayamana-Dhanurasana
  • Balancing Stick Pose. Tuladandasana
  • Standing Separate leg Stretching Pose. Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana
  • Triangle Pose. Trikonasana
  • Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose. Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana
  • Tree Pose. Tadasana
  • Toe Stand Pose. Padangustasana

Floor postures

  • Dead Body Pose (Face up and practiced between several floor postures. Posture has dialogue cuing). Savasana
  • Wind Removing Pose 1.2 (One leg, both legs. Postures are counted as one). Pavanamuktasana
  • Sit-up (Sit up is used as a transition, is counted as one, and has dialogue cuing).
  • Cobra. Bhujangasana
  • Dead body pose. (Facing down, switching directions of head and practiced between several floor postures. Posture is not counted as one and has no dialogue but is used in every Bikram class). Savasana.
  • Locust Pose 1.2 (one leg, both legs. Postures counted as one). Salabhasana
  • Dead Body Pose. (Facing down.). Savasana
  • Full Locust Pose. Poorna-Salabhasana
  • Dead Body Pose. (Facing down). Savasana
  • Bow Pose. Dhanurasana
  • Dead Body Pose. (Facing down). Savasana
  • Fixed Firm Pose. Supta-Vajrasana
  • Dead Body Pose. (Facing up). Savasana
  • Sit-up
  • Half Tortoise Pose. Ardha-Kurmasana
  • Dead Body Pose. (Facing up). Savasana
  • Sit-up.
  • Camel Pose. Ustrasana
  • Dead Body Pose. (Facing up). Savasana
  • Sit-up.
  • Rabbit Pose. Sasangasana
  • Dead Body Pose (Facing up). Savasana
  • Sit-up
  • Head to Knee with Stretching Pose. (Postures counted as one). Janushirasana with Paschimotthanasana
  • Dead Body Pose (Facing up). Savasana
  • Sit-up
  • Spine Twisting Pose. Ardha-Matsyendrasana
  • Dead Body Pose (Facing up). Savasana
  • Sit-up
  • Blowing in Firm. Kapalbhati in Vajrasana (Breathing exercise)
  • Final Dead Body Pose (Facing up). Savasana

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